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Sex Transm Infect. 2002 Apr;78(2):135-8.

Contamination of environmental surfaces by genital human papillomaviruses.

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Clinical Microbiology and Public Health Laboratory, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, UK.



To investigate contamination of environmental surfaces with human papillomaviruses (HPV) DNA in two genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinics and in an on-site staff leisure and fitness centre.


Samples were collected from the treatment rooms and patients' toilets of two GUM clinics situated at two hospital sites and from the toilets of the staff leisure and fitness centre on one of the sites. Samples were tested for the presence of HPV DNA by nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and HPV amplicons were typed by reverse line hybridisation using HPV type specific oligonucleotide probes complementary to 35 HPV types. All samples were also tested for beta globin DNA by PCR in order to assess their quality.


HPV DNA was found to be present at more than 50% of the sites sampled in one of the GUM clinics, but was absent in the second, and also from the staff leisure and fitness centre. All HPV DNA detected was found to be cell associated. The most commonly found HPV types were 6, 11, and 16, respectively. HPV infected cells were found to be localised mainly to surfaces used predominantly by medical staff.


This study has identified contamination of the environment of a GUM clinic. Possible sources for the contamination of the clinic toilets were from genital sites via hands to the environment. Within the treatment rooms the most likely route of HPV DNA contamination of the environment was via the doctor's gloved hands.

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